5 Steps to find a job you will love – from Recruitment to Business Consulting by Aldona Sozanska
Do you feel you are ‘stuck’ in your job and wondering what to do about it? Do you wake up every morning wishing you could stay in bed instead of going to the office? Do you have the impression that your job has no meaning or importance? Or maybe you are so fed up you want to run away to the sun and sip cocktails for the rest of your life? If you answered yes to any of these questions – rest assured, you are not alone. For several years I worked in a role that didn’t align with my natural talents or personal strengths. In fact I hear a similar story from many of my friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs but keep on going for years feeling unhappy and stressed. The long-term effects of working in such a relentless environment can be devastating. Chronic stress related to your work situation can contribute to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, cardiac disease and depression. Despite this, for many different reasons we remain in the jobs we hate or we make a change without understanding our real purpose, strengths and goals, ending up in the exact same job situation as before. Albert Einstein once said the ‘the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result’. Following his wisdom, before you make a drastic move and hand in your notice, pause for a moment and think! There are several things you can do to discover which job will truly make you happy.
It took me a while to make a conscious decision to change my career and today I can proudly say I did it! The time and effort I invested changing my path has already had an impact on my life. I have become more confident, positive and clear about who I am and what I want to achieve in life. I am writing this article to let you know it is possible to make a huge difference by finding a job you love.
- Why do you want to change? What is the problem?
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs, the author of this quote, was a great example of a man who followed his true calling. He made difficult and risky choices in his career following his vision and dreams.
Career choices are not about what is right or wrong in general opinion. They are about what is – at this very moment – right for you.
If you are feeling unhappy in your current job – you need to first understand why. This is the most important step in your path to change. Be very honest answering this question – why am I unhappy in my current role? Many different factors contribute to a job satisfaction. The most common ones such as salary, office location, and flexibility to work from home – are easy to figure out. Especially if you live and work in or close to a big city – you should, with the right attitude, be able to find a better paid job in a competitor’s organisation. You may conclude that what really makes your work day miserable is your manager’s leadership style, a loud team member who spreads office rumours and spends half of their day watching YouTube videos. I am not suggesting these are simple problems to solve. They just don’t require in-depth analysis of your personality and strengths to find a possible solution. On the contrary, you may discover that you are fully satisfied with your salary and colleagues but your job function is not in line with your strengths. A common expression – “It is not you – it’s me” fits perfectly to this situation. This is where you have to spend time reflecting on who you are, what you are passionate about and where you see your career going.
- One project rule.
After you have understood the reason for your unhappiness in depth, you need to make sure you are ready for a change. Can you dedicate time to make the change? Can you sacrifice part of your social life, holidays etc.? Do you have any other important “life” projects currently in flow like buying a house, a new born baby, divorce, plans to lose lots of weight etc.? I ask as we have limited time, especially when we work full time. If you are unable to commit the appropriate amount of time and energy to make a change – you are not very likely to succeed. It is like going to the gym once a month – painful and counterproductive. Once you have made the decision that you want to find a job you love and you know the purpose of this change – make sure all the other projects on your agenda become secondary. If it is not possible to prioritise it, create a plan to solve current challenges so you can move to career change mode when you are ready to do so. Don’t procrastinate and start today!
- Discover your strengths.
Most of us never asked principal questions to discover our real purpose and talents. Who am I? How would my friends describe me as a person? What do they like about me? What are my weak points? When at work – which of my tasks are my favourite? What is one thing I could do for the rest of my life and never get bored? Do I thrive working with numbers or I am rather artistic and creative? Or perhaps – both? What skills do I have?
I started my role in recruitment consultancy straight out of University after graduating with a Psychology degree. I didn’t know much about the day-to-day of the recruiter role, not to mention any other important factors that can contribute to happiness at ones work. I quickly realised that a large chunk of my day was dedicated to making phone calls to strangers – clients and candidates. I did feel somewhere deep down a real discomfort before those conversations. I tend to thrive in the situations where I can build long term relationships and I do feel better when I can prepare thoroughly before a conversation with a client. Today I can honestly say that I strongly dislike small talk, cold calling and hard sales. Of course, there were parts of my job that I thoroughly enjoyed. Especially when I started to have a pool of trusted clients and the opportunity to solve some of their business challenges through recruitment – I was thriving. Today I know that my strengths were aligned to these moments of satisfaction at work. Back in my early career however I didn’t analyse where my work related discomfort was coming from. I am quite ambitious and I eventually became very successful in my job. Unfortunately the feeling of dissatisfaction remained.
The most important step in finding a job you love is to make sure that a large chunk of your work day will be filled with the tasks you enjoy. And yes – it will never be perfect as there will likely always be stress or things you may like less. But proportions should be in favour of the fulfilling tasks. You also have to acknowledge and accept the fact that there will always be people who are smarter, better looking or more creative than you. But we all have our own, unique path to walk.
Finding your strengths can be a challenging task. There are plenty of ways you can start. One of my favourite books that can help is “How to find a job you will love” by John Lees. It gives a battery of tools and tests that will help you in your journey.
- Find allies.
One of the important aspects of your transition is to sustain a supportive social network. I had to limit my social activities to a minimum to be able to focus on my career transition. I explained to my friends and family what was happening and most of them supported my ambitions. I also discovered that some of my ‘friends’ were not very enthusiastic about my plans and in fact were quite sceptical about it. I heard comments such as – “You need an MBA to get into top consulting company”, “You have a stable job in a good organisation, it is too risky to move”, “Look at your cousin (brother, sister, neighbour etc.) – they have just bought a house (cat, cactus etc.) – why don’t you think about settling down in your life”? Treat these comments as irrelevant noise. You need to make sure you surround yourself with people who encourage you and reinforce you in a positive way. I had to make tough calls on some of my relationships after I realised they were very one-sided and discouraging. Remember – your need a lot of confidence and energy if you want to make the real transition and find a satisfying job. Don’t be afraid to let go of those people, who literally suck the life out of you.
In addition to having a circle of trust, a great idea is to identify someone you know who has made such a change. No matter if you are outgoing or more introverted – you need to start building a network around you and learn from others. Ask your friends or check your LinkedIn profile and try to find people with similar skills to yours who have made the transition you are after. Finding a dedicated mentor will give you an edge to move forward. Speak to your manager and colleagues about projects you could get involved that may help you to develop your skills. Be proactive.
- Set yourself realistic goals.
After couple of months of intensive research, brainstorming, analysing my strengths and talking to my allies, I had a good idea about my strengths. I realised I should be looking for a role that requires a certain level of subject matter expertise, involves problem solving and building long term relationships. One of my good friends suggested that a role as an analyst or a consultant would fit my description. It sounded intriguing, however, after reading few adverts online, I figured out that this type of role requires certain skills that I didn’t yet have. For instance, working as a management consultant requires strong MS Excel expertise which I didn’t yet possess.
List the skills you need in order to be able to get the job you will love. Where is the biggest gap and what mandatory skills do you need? How can you prove to the future recruiter that you have the abilities needed? Find courses (many of the on-line ones are free, check www.coursera.org), trainings, seminars, networking events and books that can be helpful. You may consider going back to school. Open your calendar and start planning. Plan a few months in advance and make sure you also give yourself a “day off’ from studying. If you are doing on line courses – tutors will provide you with deadlines. Try to reward yourself after you have developed a certain skill or completed the task. Make sure that you have time to rest. Try to be realistic about goal setting. I spent a year and a half preparing for my move but trust me – the patience was worth it.
Remember – the process of making the change takes time. It may be easier for some of us than others, depending how far we have deviated from our true calling. You may also discover that learning new skills makes your current job less stressful than before and perhaps will open the door to internal opportunities that were not previously available. One thing is certain – you are the only person responsible for your happiness and it is possible to make the change. Why not start today?
If you would like to read more about an international career transition please click here: International Career Transition (1)
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